Dennis Etzel Jr.: poems from My Secret Wars of 1984

 

[envoi]

366 sentences as 1984—a leap-year progression as “the progress of a line or sentence, or a series of lines or sentences, has spatial properties as well as temporal properties.” 1984’s secret wars raged inside comic books, movies, dungeons, and dragons “pressing back against the pressure of reality.”

*

A couple of amazing things just happened. A large TV transmission tower collapses under the weight of the ice, along with many trees and large tree branches. A mark of their life without protest, without rage. A nightmare on Elm Street.

*

Alphabetized to represent the mind’s organization of what is found. Although dungeon or wilderness adventures are fun, consider the characters’ reasons for being. America has a way of blanketing out things. An aftershock of the aftermath. An alphabetized collection of comics, role-playing adventures, and music on tapes, as representation. An inker inks over the debris adding details.

*

An unspent lunch money becomes a sustenance of comic books. And a number of pages were excised by that agency head there, the man in charge, and he sent it on up here to CIA, where more pages were excised before it was printed, says Ronald Reagan. And as soon as we have an investigation and find out where any blame lies for the few that did not get excised or changed, we certainly are going to do something about that, says Ronald Reagan. And as the heroes watch, they are watched in turn. And each evening the pace back home matches the sun’s setting. And I start high school at my lowest. And now we are putting up a defense of our own, says Ronald Reagan.

*

And suddenly somebody says, “Oh, it’s got to be up there, and it’s Star Wars,” and so forth, says Ronald Reagan. And the experience of using it, which includes the experience of understanding it, either as speech or as writing, is inevitably active. And I fail to protect my eight-year-old sister from the night.

*

Anywhere I walk I wear my Walkman. Apparently, any manipulation of these controls activates this apparatus, which senses the intent of its user and accomplishes what is desired. Are we ourselves? As a matter of fact, there are some pretty scientific and solid figures about how much space there still is in the world and how many more people we can have, says Ronald Reagan.

*

As a scholar of origin stories, I research each superhero I know. Assembly is my favorite, moving around the room of others. Beat Street. Because we have language we find ourselves in a peculiar relationship to the objects, events, and situations which constitute what we imagine of the world. Because we’re off in a strange land, up to our ears in a little secret war that may decide the fate of the universe. Better to say nothing and hope he slowly discovers the truth for himself or hides from it forever.

* * *

NOTES

[envoi]

Sentence 1: From “A Rejection of Closure,” by Lyn Hejinian. Used with permission from the author.

Sentence 2: “It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.” —Wallace Stevens. Fair use.

[A couple-A nightmare]

Sentence 1: From Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars written by Jim Shooter. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars © and TM Marvel Entertainment, LLC, and used with permission.

Sentence 2: From “About the March 18, 1984 Topeka ice storm,” on the National Weather Service website, by Mike Akulow and Larry Schultz. Public domain.

Sentence 3: From Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks. Used with permission from the author.

Sentence 4: Film of 1984.

[Alphabetized to-An inker]

Sentence 2: From Dungeons and Dragons Companion Set: Volume One by Frank Mentzer, p2. Used with permission from Wizards of the Coast, LLC.

Sentence 6: From a poem of mine, from Radius of Home, which appeared in Denver Quarterly, Vol 45, No 3, 2011.

[An unspent-And now]

Sentences 2, 3, and 7: President Ronald Reagan, Presidential Debate, October 21, 1984 in Kansas City, Missouri. Public domain.

Sentence 4: From Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, p.158.

[And suddenly-And I]

Sentence 1: President Ronald Reagan, Presidential Debate, October 21, 1984 in Kansas City, Missouri. Public domain.

Sentence 2: From “A Rejection of Closure,” by Lyn Hejinian. Used with permission from the author.

[Anywhere I-As a matter]

Sentence 2: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.

Sentence 3: Title of song by The Fixx.

Sentence 4: Reagan.

[As a scholar-Better to]

Sentence 3: Film from 1984.

Sentence 4: Hejinian.

Sentence 5 and 6: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars.


etzel-250w-142x150Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas. He has an MFA from The University of Kansas, and an MA and Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Kansas State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, DIAGRAM, and others. He teaches English at Washburn University.